Frank Bowmaker was a student at Portland Place between 2002-09. He holds a First Class Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Bristol. He works in an account management role at Shelter, the UK homelessness charity.What is your fondest memory of your time at Portland Place?
Doing a gig with my history teacher was definitely a highlight. I played in a signed Indie band that got signed by a record label and released some albums. I remember that when I was in upper sixth, we did a battle of the bands at school. My old history teacher, Aran Columbus, also played in a band and we closed the night together. That was hilarious.
We did a few different musical performances during my time at school. I once got a jazz band together with my music teacher at the time, Mr Eshref, in which I played bass. It was really fun. We did that at a music venue up the road from the school, called 229. Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I had a couple: A history teacher called Ms Lisa Hunt, whom I ended up and going on and doing history at university as a direct result of. It was the style of their teaching that got me into history. You are a blank slate when deciding what to study and it depends a lot on who your teachers are as to what you want to do at university. We were given a lot of freedom to be creative at our essay writing and coming up with arguments. We had a good class, we all got on well. Ms Hunt could command the classroom without being stern. She got to know you on a personal level. She inspired me to result of her teaching. She was amazing, my best A-Level teacher for sure.
I should also mention Ms Stringle, my art teacher. At one point, I was going to potentially go to art school, inspired by her. How did you end up in your current career?
To be honest it happened naturally. I studied history at the University of Bristol and got a First, which was good. And in the summer between my second and third years I did an internship for a charity in London, called Hands On London
. My role was to liaise with corporates and set up partnerships with local charities. They offered me a job when I graduated. I’m now a Trustee there. I kind of just stayed in that field. In November, I moved to Shelter (a homelessness charity), working in an account management role. You could say I fell into something that I enjoy. What’s the best part of your job?
The moment when I work out a good match between a big company that can offer lots of skills, resources and money, with the charity I am representing. When you get the good news, that’s the best part. What were your expectations of work while at school and how do they compare to the reality?
When you’re at school you’ve got very little idea of what the working world is like. It’s very different to what you image in your head. I did some work experience while at school with Time Out London. I imagined it would be a lot easier than it was.
A lot of the things that you learn about at school aren’t directly relevant to what you end up doing at work. It’s all about transferable skills. Now that I am older I can recognise things like writing essays, critical thinking, and being persuasive and articulate — that’s all relevant to work. You all learn all of that at school. What career advice do you have for Portland Place students?
At an early stage in your career, say Yes to things. Don’t close doors because you’re unsure about things or if you think it’s not the perfect path to follow. Be a Yes man. Give opportunities a go. If it doesn’t work out, that’s OK. But it might work out to be the thing you’ve always wanted to do, but wasn’t aware of. That has gotten me quite far, just being open and willing to commit to the things that life throws at you. Networking and contacts are also massively important. The more people you know, the further you go.